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Oct. 18, 2009
Spartanburg, S.C. - On a day when USC Upstate and Florida Gulf Coast went old school, 90 minutes was just not enough as the teams played into the first overtime period before Westin Vallentine put a shot just inside the right post in the 96th minute to lift FGCU to a 1-0 victory in A-Sun men's soccer action.
The game was played at the Upstate practice fields because the stadium field at County University Soccer Stadium had been torn up in Friday night's doubleheader following nearly a week of steady rain. The damage to the field made it unplayable for today's game. The teams took the field without the services of a scoreboard, game clock or PA, taking the game back to the early days of college soccer. It didn't matter as the teams battled in a classic duel on the pitch.
Upstate fell to 4-6-2 overall and 1-2-2 with four points in the A-Sun. Florida Gulf Coast improved to 6-6-1 overall and 4-2-0 with 12 points in the conference.
"We played hard, but in games like this the results are decided by a 30 second stretch," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "We got dispossessed in the midfield and they scored a goal to win it. These types of games are won that way. There is a fine line between winning and losing. They took advantage of the chance they created and got the result."
Upstate controlled the pace of play early in the game before Florida Gulf Coast hit its stride with 20 minutes to play in the half. Despite combining for 12 shots in the first half, only three saves were made as shots either sailed wide or high of the goal. The best scoring opportunity of the half came off of the foot of Spartan Erkan Yildirim in the 40th minute. He gained control of the ball and fired a left-footed shot towards the far post. However, FGCU goalkeeper Matthew Smith made a diving save to his right to save the shot.
The second half was much like the first with the teams battling for control of the game. A back and forth battle saw Upstate and FGCU combine for 11 shots in the half and Spartan goalkeeper Pat Regna was much busier while tallying five saves. He kept Upstate in the game with a tremendous diving save with 11 minutes to play in regulation. Andres Navas took a shot from the middle of the field about 20 yards out. Regna made a diving save to his right to punch the ball out of the box and Upstate cleared the ball out of the zone. The teams played the remainder of regulation without getting any solid scoring opportunities.
Florida Gulf Coast came out for the overtime period and immediately pressured the Upstate defense. The Eagles were able to control the midfield in the initial stages of the period and that control paid off in the 96th minute.
While Upstate attempted to play the ball forward in the middle of the field, FGCU took the ball away. Alexei Reyes took a pass in the middle of the field about 45 yards out, dribbled towards the goal and played a through ball to Vallentine at the top of the box. Vallentine moved to his left to free up space and hit a shot just off the ground to the right of a charging Regna. Regna couldn't get a hand on the ball and the shot went into the right side of the goal to deliver the victory to the Eagles. The goal was Vallentine's fifth of the season.
Florida Gulf Coast finished the game with a 16-8 lead in shots. Regna finished with a game-high six saves for Upstate, while Smith made two for FGCU.